Protecting young people from grooming
Tackling terrorism remains to be one of the government’s main priorities.
What with the convenience and accessibility of social networks, social games and encrypted communication platforms, the mammoth task of combatting extremism is made much trickier.
How are extremists using online technologies to exploit children into believing their ways?
What is online radicalisation?
Increasingly, the Internet is being used by people who wish to share views and opinions. When this is done by an extremist - someone who holds extreme political and/or religious views and who may promote illegal or violent action – in a way designed to cause those views to be adopted by others, this is defined as online radicalisation. It is a form of grooming – enticing someone to act in a certain way or manner for malicious reasons.
How are young people radicalised online?
Extremists meet young people where they are at – in online games, on social networks and on apps. Because of the physical divide, children may not perceive online strangers as potentially unsafe in the way that they would do in the real world, and therefore they may engage with them on more personal levels. Their usual barriers may be down, causing them to be more vulnerable. In addition to this, as young people grow and develop in their understanding of who they are and where they belong in the world, they may search for others’ views and opinions and seek guidance from their online acquaintances; their youth leading to greater susceptibility.
Some extremist organisations make training resources and videos using themes of popular violent games, such as Call of Duty, as they know that these will be particularly appealing to young people. In some cases, extremist have directly used the social nature of online games to groom children – meeting them where they are at and playing on their emotions. Extremists may also publish content on YouTube or use other popular apps, such as Instagram and Snapchat, to spread their messages.
Extremist groomers play on a young person’s feelings and will make their ideals appealing.
Who is at greater risk?
Anyone, at any point, could potentially be groomed by an extremist online, but young people who fall into one of the below categories are particularly vulnerable:
Preventing online radicalisation
To help young people stay safe from this form of grooming, it’s essential that they are taught to:
Adults can also get involved by:
Further guidance, teaching resources and staff training on anti-radicalisation is available to E-safety Support and Safeguarding Essentials members. Join now!